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Russell D. Hauge Prosecuting Attorney Carol I. Maves Office Administrator Christian C. Casad Case Management Division Chief Timothy A. Drury Felony and Juvenile Division Chief Claire A. Bradley District/Municipal Division Chief Jacquelyn M. Aufderheide Civil/Child Support Division Chief
August 26, 2010 Netter Shooting July 23, 2010 Unincorporated Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Analysis Just before 10:25 p.m. on the night of July 23, 2010, Poulsbo Police Officer Darrel Moore initiated a traffic stop of a white Honda Accord driven by Matthew James Netter. Although initially cooperative, within minutes Netter, without provocation, threatened Officer Moore with a pistol. In response to the threat, Officer Moore deployed his service weapon, firing nine shots at Netter. Netter was struck eight times and died of his wounds. Officer Moore was absolutely justified in his use of deadly force. We decline to prosecute. I base this conclusion on the results of the investigation conducted by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. The record created by that investigation is very complete and includes a video and audio recording of the entire transaction between Officer Moore and Netter. The Poulsbo Police Department has equipped most of its patrol cars with video cameras. The cameras are permanently mounted and are oriented to make a video-and-audio taped record of the action immediately in front of the patrol vehicle. Officer Moore’s car had this equipment. There is also an audio recording of all the radio traffic generated by this transaction. While on patrol, all Kitsap County law enforcement officers are in constant radio contact with Kitsap County Cencom, the County’s emergency dispatch network. Patrol officers maintain communication through radios in their patrol cars and radios carried on their persons. Cencom records the time and content of all radio calls. July 23, 2010 was a Friday. Silverdale Whaling Days, a community celebration scheduled to last through the weekend, was just getting underway. unincorporated Kitsap County. The Silverdale area is part of
Although an officer of the Poulsbo Police Department, Officer Moore was working in Silverdale as part of a Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUI) enforcement emphasis patrol. From time to time, the local law enforcement agencies in Kitsap County and the Washington State Patrol will join together and focus DUI enforcement efforts on a particular geographic area of the County. A DUI emphasis patrol is publicized beforehand to deter potential drunk drivers. All participating officers are commissioned to exercise law enforcement authority throughout the County. Moore was assigned to the Silverdale area as part of the emphasis patrol. He was in full uniform and driving a clearly marked Poulsbo Police Department patrol car. Navy Petty Officer Erik Nelson was also in the car as a civilian observer. Civilian “ride-alongs” are a regular part of local law enforcement practice. Just before 10:25 p.m. Officer Moore noted a vehicle eastbound on NW Bucklin Hill Road near its intersection with Mickleberry Road. It was a white Honda Accord, Washington license number 876 WTW. It had swerved suddenly in its lane of travel. Given the time of day, the community celebration, and the heavy traffic, this swerve gave Officer Moore a reasonable suspicion that the driver might be under the influence of intoxicants. Officer Moore engaged his emergency lights, signaling the Honda to stop. He informed Cencom as he did so. There was one person in the vehicle: the driver, Matthew Netter. He responded immediately to the patrol car’s lights by pulling off to the side of Bucklin Hill Road. Officer Moore exited his car and approached Netter’s Honda. Netter remained in his vehicle. Traffic on Bucklin Hill road was very heavy, so Officer Moore asked him to continue on less than a block and turn right on Mickleberry into the parking lot of Timberland Bank. The bank was closed for the weekend, and that part of Mickleberry is not heavily traveled. The Officer’s plan was to continue the contact in an area that would not interfere with the heavy Whaling Days traffic.
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Netter complied, pulling into the empty parking lot and stopping. Officer Moore positioned his vehicle behind Netter’s Honda. Netter remained seated in his car, and Officer Moore approached the driver’s side. The civilian rider followed and took up a position behind Officer Moore. Standing by the Honda driver’s door, Officer Moore explained the reason for the stop and asked to see the documents necessary to lawfully operate a motor vehicle: driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Netter produced a Washington driver’s license. Netter told Officer Moore that the swerve noted by the officer was necessary to avoid a car entering his lane from a side street. Officer Moore responded politely. Approximately three minutes into the contact, the officer received a radio transmission from Cencom advising that Netter presented a possible safety risk. The dispatchers at Cencom can immediately access the electronic law enforcement records associated with identifying information, like a vehicle license number. When Officer Moo re informed Cencom that he was stopping a car identified by Washington plate 876 WTW, the dispatcher automatically checked to see what, if any, criminal history was associated with the vehicle. Netter had been the subject of a domestic violence allegation on March 6, 2010. He had been driving the Honda at that time. The Port Orchard Police Department had investigated that incident and included in their report information from witnesses alleging that Netter had access to weapons and had indicated a willingness to fight with law enforcement.1 This information was linked to the plate number. When Cencom ran its check on July 23, that portion of the prior report came up and was relayed to Officer Moore for his safety. Netter heard the transmission and denied the allegations. Office Moore continued to respond politely, assuring Netter his only interest was that they both be safe. He told Netter that to ensure their safety, he intended to check Netter’s person for weapons. In this kind of situation, a simple pat-down by the investigating officer is necessary and legal.
See Port Orchard Police Department Report Number D10-000589 MOORE/NETTER OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING JULY 23, 2010 PAGE 3 OF 6
Officer Moore asked Netter if he had any weapons in the car, and Netter stated he did not. Directing Netter to keep his hands in view, Moore opened the Honda’s driver’s side door so that Netter could exit the vehicle. For the next few seconds, Netter complied with the officer’s directions, but became increasingly agitated. He raised his voice, demanding to know why he was being “searched.” Officer Moore attempted to explain that he was not interested in conducting a full search of his person. Netter raised the volume of his arguments and began moving about in the car. Officer Moore responded by raising his voice, and that tactic produced another few seconds of compliance by Netter. But Netter could not keep still and would not obey the officer’s commands to keep his hands in sight. Without any apparent explanation, he suddenly dove to his right, across the empty passenger’s seat. In an attempt to subdue him, Officer Moore jumped into the car. He engaged Netter, calling to his rider to get on the patrol car’s radio and call for help. They struggled briefly, and then Officer Moore jumped out of the Honda shouting “Gun!” He quickly drew his service weapon, and shouting to Netter to drop the gun and stop resisting, fired nine times at Netter, still in the front seat of the Honda. The shots were fired at close range in two quick volleys. Netter was struck eight times. Officer Moore fired until Netter no longer presented a threat. This is consistent with the training received by all Washington law enforcement officers. When Netter stopped moving and dropped his pistol, Officer Moore immediately called for assistance, radioing that shots had been fired and that the subject had been hit. He kept his weapon trained on Netter as he made the call, relaying to Cencom that an airlift was needed, but Netter’s weapon had not yet been secured. Officer Moore made this call at 10:30:22 p.m. Just over five minutes had passed since the contact began.
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Other officers arrived within seconds and took control.2
An aid car arrived almost
immediately, just after 10:30 p.m., and Central Kitsap Fire Department personnel removed Netter from the Honda. No airlift was available. He died on the way to the hospital. A post mortem toxicology screening showed methamphetamine in his bloodstream at a level of 2.97 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The “Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet” published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that a blood concentration of methamphetamine above 2.5 mg/L “will likely be associated with severe, possibly life threatening, toxicity.” Netter’s body was the only object removed from the Honda until a search warrant was obtained Monday, July 26, 2010. Netter’s pistol was found on the passenger-side floorboard in a location and position consistent with it falling from his hand after he was shot. It was a fully loaded .40 caliber H & K semi-automatic. There was a round in the chamber, the weapon was cocked, and the safety was off. Washington State law defines a homicide as justified when a law enforcement officer finds deadly force necessary “to overcome actual resistance...in the discharge of a legal duty.” RCW 9A.16.040(1)(b). Poulsbo Police Officer Darrel Moore was lawfully on duty on the evening of July 23, 2010. He stopped Matthew Netter after developing a reasonable suspicion that he was driving in an impaired state. He treated Netter with courtesy and professionalism, even after Netter was identified as a possible threat. When Netter became agitated, he attempted to control the situation with verbal commands. Netter failed to respond to Officer Moore’s efforts and acted in an unambiguously hostile manner. Still Officer Moore tried to bring him under control using the minimum force necessary. But when Netter produced a pistol he left Officer Moore no other choice. Officer Moore’s use of deadly force was more than justified—it was the only response possible.
As part of the protocol for investigating and officer-involved shooting, Officer Moore gave a blood sample. The sample was taken by Central Kitsap Fire personnel at approximately 1:30 a.m. on July 24, 2010. Officer Moore had been in the company of other police officers since the shooting. The blood draw was observed by Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department Detective Chad Birkenfeld. The analysis of the sample showed no controlled substances. MOORE/NETTER OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING JULY 23, 2010 PAGE 5 OF 6
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